September Installment: Flora

Customizable, flowery illustrations. Flora is a step back to my vectory roots, and an overdue re-born interest in what Flash can do.

About “Flora”

Flora was based on a single sketch inspired during my recent holiday. I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Langeland (just like last year), and a tiny image got stuck in my mind. I remember it as being either an illustration, or a painting on some wall. Whether I saw this image on the television in the evenings or elsewhere, I do not remember, and it doesn’t matter. The tiny sketch I made displayed some highly stylized flowers, interconnected by thin lines.

Building the first mockup from this sketch was just like the “old days”. Back then, we didn’t care about usability or accessability. Back then I didn’t even know the difference know what those words meant. But we did create some crazy things, and the community was great.

It seems I got too caught up in the patterns of the Old Ways, because the first mockup nicely illustrated one of the problems I wouldn’t have cared about back then. People thought it was just a still image. The quick resolution was to add an animated introduction, displaying just how things work. How delicious to be able to do that; an animated introduction would be all but impossible in HTML. But this is not about Flash vs. HTML, that’s discussed more interestingly elsewhere.

This is about rediscovering your roots, and I must say for the first time since awaiting Flash 6 (or MX), I’m now eagerly awaiting Flash 8, the Last of the Clan Macromedia. (Stay tuned for a 6th of September release!)

Next

Time is not my ally these days, and I do not know when I will get more of it. On the horizon, however, are wallpapers from Flora, and an source code release of the draggable dots used. It was based on code by Robert Penner anyway, so it only makes sense.

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No | May – Stagecraft

Directly inspired by, “Stagecraft” is an homage to the excellent film: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Or more specifically, the end-credits…

About “Stagecraft”

I was lucky enough to catch the Lemony Snicket movie while it was still in theatres in Denmark. Not only is this an excellently entertaining movie which you absolutely must see, but it is also a work of art—from the start to the very end, and even after the end. If you haven’t yet seen the movie, I recommend you rent it or purchase it right away.

Noscope May is directly influenced by, and inspired by the end credits of Snicket. Heck, it’s almost derived from it. As such, let there be no doubt that this effort is a tribute to the talented graphic designers who spent hard work in creating such inspiring end-credits.

With that said, I have tried giving it my own twist. Obviously the concept of the images is based on digitally visualizing old-tyme puppetry. That means elaborate textures, stylized shapes and drop shadows resulting from the front spotlight.

All in all I’m satisfied with the end result. I particularly like how pictures #2 and #5 came out. Images #1 and #4 I consider the weakest of the bunch, probably because they partially break with the concept of cardboard cutouts and instead rely on silhuettes in the wrong places.

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No | December – Surrealisme

Noscope December is an attempt to step back in history to the surrealists. Surrealism was a movement, and the surrealists tried to penetrate the crust of the existing reality in search of the true reality – the super reality. Hence the name, “sur – realisme”, french for “over-realism”.

About “Surrealisme”

It all really started with an illustration I saw in a Danish magazine called “Ud & Se”. It was an illustration accompanying an article about “mind medication”, and showed a blissfully smiling man, with his head being poetically dragged apart as though it was goo. It was a lovely inspiration, and reminded me that Photoshop has just such a tool, called “Liquify”. I cut out the illustration, and hung it in my kitchen. It was enough for me to decide to explore the “liquify” tool this December.

I did the images chronologically this month, so picture #5 was the last one I did over a period of two days. I do think I went overboard with the liquification of the clouds in some of the images, but all in all, I’m satisfied with the final result.

As for the composition of the images, since the very purpose was to explore the liquify tool under the cover of “Surrealism”, I wanted a big canvas to liquify. As such, I have purposefully let the clouds be the major player in the images.

The tiled ground/forests in the bottom of the images, that too, is on purpose. On one hand it adds to sense that “something’s not quite right here”, and on the other hand it clearly communicates “this is just decoration, look at the interesting part above”.

The huge tree limb, or tree tops in the right of the images are there for a couple of reasons. First of all, it looks eerie, and adds some dynamic to an image that would otherwise just be a vista. Secondly, it adds distance from the background to the individual tree.

Music

The beautiful musical track is, as always, composed by Kate. This specific track, is one of my absolute favourites – let it play for a few minutes to get the full experience.

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No | November – Autumn

Noscope November is a celebration of the most beautiful of autumns I have experienced in years. The leaves are saturated more than ever before, and the sky has been gray in the most wonderful way.

October was a good month for me. While I was busy as ever with moving from Vesterbro to Amager, it’s been a great experience, and I’m thrilled with my new locations. In fact, Image #1, my personal favourite of the 5, was taken not long from my new apartment.

But October did not only present me with a new apartment, it also presented me with a fantastic trip to Sweden with some of my close friends. We sat under the cold cold night sky, around the fire in the garden, packed in layers of sweaters we found in our house. We counted shooting stars, while drinking white russians. On the last day, we grilled dinner down by the barn, with extra coal due to the sub zero temperature. Those are moments to remember.

Naturally all those events saturated the leaves extra for me, and as such, this is a tribute to mother nature and all the fantastic events she can present to us. I hope you’ll all have a great autumn.

Music

The beautiful musical track is called “Red Tide”, and was initially composed for May 2003. You can download the full-length song from Kate, but consider purchasing her bands CD, “The Aqua Path” for 10 USD (+ shipping) at cdbaby.com.

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No | October – Vesterbro

In a few days, I will be moving away from the part of Copenhagen that is known as “Vesterbro”. While I am looking forward to this, it also represents the end of an era. Thus, Noscope October is dedicated to the fond, and not so fond memories I have of life at Vesterbro.

About “Vesterbro”

While Vesterbro is in a constant state of change, it does represent “classic Copenhagen”. It’s got the pulsing energy of city life, a diverse sub culture, but also whores, hustlers and drug-addicts.

I have come home from work many times, only to ask a few people on my doorstep to please have their fixes elsewhere. I cannot count how many times I’ve gone to pickup my bike to the smell of someone who just marked his territory. I have seen many tragic cases, many struggles and many fights.

Those are the not so fond memories.

Yet, it is not without a sense of genuine sadness, that I move from Vesterbro to Amager, in a few days. It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly it is I like about this place. The memories? Perhaps. The sounds? Unlikely. The smells? Not bloody likely.

In fact, it’s pretty hard to explain why at all, one would miss my part of Vesterbro. So I have created these pictures, to try and tell the story.

I have focused on capturing the sense of a summer nearing its end. The kind of special melancholic feeling that allows for a precious, yet terribly sad memory.

Other images of Vesterbro

While I am unsure as to whether I succeeded graphically this month, I am satisfied that I was able to focus on the fond memories. This is quite unlike the time I moved, from Nykøbing Falster to Vesterbro in May 2002. My “4800 nykøbing” Installment was definitely focused on the negative memories, and was almost sarcastic in its expression.

Soon after my moving to Vesterbro, my interest in the big city was sparked. This resulted in “1701 cph v“. Rough edgy pictures that pretty much represented my emotionally tumultuous state at that time. Yet the imagery from 1701 cph v was distinctly more positive than 4800 nykøbing.

March 2004 would again use imagery from Vesterbro, this time packaged in an almost comically sugar sweet packaging. The “Happyjoy Issue” would show warm pictures from around the Copenhagen lakes (which is near, and part of Vesterbro), but also an intentionally shrouded picture if Istedgade, the main street for prostitutes to hang out on.

I hope that by making these images, I can save not only the pictures, but also the emotions and memories of a place, in some form of time-capsule I can revisit when I grow old.

The Music

The beautiful musical track is called “Bones”, and was composed for the 4800 nykøbing installment. It is composed by Kate, and can be downloaded on her project page. While not part of her band Melusine’s The Aqua Path, that CD does contain more ambient music, and is definitely worthy of purchase. Make it yours for 10 USD (+ shipping) at cdbaby.com.

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No | September – Frozen

Noscope September is a collection of images frozen in time by means of camera. They represent memories, as pictures from a photo album would do.

I have documented the entire design process.

The beautiful musical track is called “Gelid”, and is composed by Kate. Gelid can be found on the CD “The Aqua Path”. The Aqua Path, containing 60 minutes of ambient water music can be purchased for 10 USD (+ shipping) at cdbaby.com.

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No | July 04 – Sommarlov

The music is called “Marigold”, and was composed for July 2003 by Kate. The song can be downloaded freely on her website, n-heptane.

“Sommarlov” is swedish, and roughly translates to “Spring break”, or “Summer holiday”. The choice of theme is a reflection on the current bulk of rain Denmark is being hammered with currently… and of course hopes that it’ll stop in time for my going to Roskilde Festival 2004 from the 1st – 4th of July…

So, in hopes of good weather for everyone this summer, I’ve tried to capture the feel of summer.

I think it worked out, mainly with credit given to Kate’s great musical piece.

The pictures from this month are from my two recent photo collections from sweden, “Vännaryd” & “Kullen”. Added to the composition is a techno-trixy pixelly effect that I first stumbled into when designing Greenpeace Amazon Crime Files sometime last year. It involves filling areas with aliased pixel-patterns, to achieve a flickering effect on the edge of big screens. Unfortunately, this part of the images didn’t work so well.

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No | June 04 – Chasing the Green Fairy

The music is called “Libera Me”, and was composed by the talented Kate of n-heptane studios.

Noscope June is a collection of artistic renderings of the aniseed-flavoured liqueur Absinthe. The drink in itself, is highly toxic, and is rightly illegal in most countries. The colour, however, is what interests me…

About Absinthe

It was traditionally served with water and a cube of sugar; the sugar cube was placed on an “absinthe spoon” and the liquor was drizzled over the sugar into the glass of water. The sugar helped take the bitter edge from the absinthe, and when poured into the water the liqueur turned milky white. – Source & definition

Absinthe was an 18th century drink, highly popular for it’s dreamy and hallucinatory side-effects. It was said, that the drinking of this liqueur would reveal the “green fairy”, that lived in the bottle. Thus, the consumation of Absinthe would be called “chasing the green fairy”. Hence the title of this installment. Absinthe was made illegal in the beginning of the 20th century due to it causing phobia & suicide.

You may have seen this drink in movies such as “From Hell“, “Moulin Rouge“, or in my case “Bram Stoker’s Dracula“. I mention Dracula specifically because there were some beautiful closeups of the tinted liquid, which directly inspired me to do this theme.

Furthermore, I’ve always found it hard to work with shades of green, and especially turquoise. They never dodge well, and usually turn out icky in the wrong way. So the theme was also chosen for practice using greens.

Overall I think the theme came out very well. It took more time to create that I’d have wanted to spend, but worth it I think.

Note: Newsletter subscribers got Image 4 as a layered TIFF. Last months serving, on the other hand, is available now.

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May ’04 Installment: Du Gamla, Du Fria

The music is called “Chlorine”, and was composed by the divinely talented Kate of n-heptane studios.

“Du gamla, du fria” is the first line of the swedish national anthem. While this May edition is indeed a tribute to the Sweden that I love, this choice of title is more decorative than nationalistic.

By decorative, I am speaking of the content of the images I made for this month. The idea, initially, was to make postcards from Sweden, old tarnished, slightly tacky postcards.

While only the text on image 1 and image 5 is tacky, I am pretty satisfied with the end result of this months pieces. I wanted to make sharp contrast, use much more white than I usually do, and create great textures that weren’t just Photoshop’s “texturizer”. This, I think, I succeeded in.

With this said, I’m far from happy about image 2, 3 and 4. It’s just something about the composition, the colors, and the texture that’s just not spot on.

The text on image 1 says “Du gamla, du fria, du fjällhöga nord”, which as mentioned is the first line of the Swedish national anthem. Very roughly translated, it means “you old, free, mountaneous north”.

The text on image 5 says “Hälsningar från Sverige”, which translate to “greetings from Sweden”.

3 year aniversary

Noscope was launched as part of the May 1st reboot 2001. Today, May 1st 2004 I have been true to the legacy I more or less swore myself to. 5 images, every damn month. Some quick pocket calculation makes this 3 * 12 * 5 = 180 pictures / illustrations. Needless to say I’m proud beyond what words can describe, because one thing is sure: statistical probability says, atleast SOME of these 180 images has to be good.

As a celebration, I’ll post my personal favourite images I’ve made over the past 3 years, not to forget the beautiful music Kate composed!

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